TOURISM Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said the resounding success of Madrid Fusion Manila has underscored yet again the integral role of farming, which bears a potential economic impact on tourism.
 
Teo cited prestigious gastronomy event as a grand showcase of how the country farm produce turn into finest world-class culinary recipe.
 
The Tourism Chief made the assertion   in an interview with the media held in the sidelines of Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM) 2017 now ongoing in SMX, Pasay City. 
 
“The Philippines is blessed with abundant agriculture industry, as well as vast greenery and pristine scenery, a perfect combination for gourmet, health relaxation and leisure, thus the rise of agri-tourism,” said Teo during the launching of the CALABARZON Farm Tourism Travel Guide at sideline of MFM 2017 activities at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
 
She said the DOT has long recognized the value added potential of farm and traditional agricultural sites as income-generating tourist destinations. “The idea of farms as tourist spots is not new. Imagine harvesting fresh farm produce for lunch, while your young ones wet their feet on a watering hole nearby. This bucolic setting and green landscapes are the best elements for R&R.” 
 
Teo implied that the DOT was always ahead of its time. “As part of its nature tourism portfolio, the DOT has been promoting farm and agri-tourism long before ‘unplugged,’ ‘off-the-grid’ outdoor travel became a byword,” she said, pointing to the Philippine Agri-tourism Program that was spearheaded by the DOT as early as 1999.  
 
“With the rising demand for so-called ‘low-impact tourism,’ agri-tourism can become one of the new bright spots for the Philippines,” the tourism chief added, pointing out that 30 percent of the total land area in the country is devoted to agriculture and employs 10 million Filipinos.
 
Speaking at the PH Agri-tourism: Farm, Food and Fun Session, DOT Director Rica Bueno said the Philippines has made a headstart in farm and agri-tourism with 28 DOT-accredited farm tourism sites since 2012, earning a spot as one of the Top 8 agri-tourism destinations in the world at Mother Nature Network’s website. The Philippines shares this recognition with Taiwan, Brazil, California, Hawaii, Grenada in the USA, Mallorca in Spain, and Tuscany in Italy.
 
She said “it is no coincidence the DOT outdated Republic Act 10816 of 2016 that provides for the development and promotion of farm tourism in the Philippines. Last year alone, the DOT accounted for 14 accredited agri-tourism farm sites across the country, a large portion of it is in CALABARZON.”
 
Farm tourism trailblazers in the country Josie Costales of  Costales Nature Farms, Cathy Turvill of Amadeo Nurture Farmacy, Charita Puentispina of Malagos Garden Resort, and Michael Caballes of Allied Botanical Corporation/Sunflower Maze in Pangasinan, all echo the DOT’s business prospective for what they call the country’s “sunshine industry.” (DM)
DOT Director Maria Rica Bueno gives a situationer of the Philippine Agri-tourism at a forum held in the sidelines of MFM 2017 in SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.
Top to bottom: Farm tourism trailblazers Cathy Turvill of Amadeo Nurture Farmacy and Charita Puentespina of Malagos Garden Resort share their success stories, along with Josie Costales (second from left) of Costales Nature Farms, and Michael Caballes (extreme right) of Allied Botanical Corporation (Sunflower Maze, Pangasinan).